Medicaid expansion

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Maine's fiscally conservative governor says he'd rather go to jail before expanding Medicaid and putting the state in "red ink.''

Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, told WVOM Radio Tuesday that he can't be forced to expand eligibility for Medicaid without an approved funding plan. 

"Nobody can force me to put the state in red ink," LePage said. "And I will not do that.  So, you can tell the Maine people, I'd go to jail before I put the state in red ink."

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine House of Representatives Monday upheld Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a bill that would have funded voter-approved Medicaid expansion in Maine.

Maine lawmakers are back at the State House this week to handle dozens of vetoes from Gov. Paul LePage and to take up several unresolved issues.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine's Republican governor is publicly laying out a proposed tax hike on hospitals to pay for voter-approved Medicaid expansion.
 
Gov. Paul LePage's office says Medicaid expansion will offset a tax hike by decreasing charity care and bad debt. Maine's hospital tax rate is 2.23 percent, and Rabinowitz said Maine could go up to six percent.
 
Maine Hospital Association lobbyist Jeffrey Austin previously told The Associated Press that Maine hospitals pay $100 million in annual taxes and would oppose an increase.
 

Steve Mistler / Maine Public

Under the Medicaid expansion law that voters approved last November, Mainers who earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level could be eligible for MaineCare, the state's name for its Medicaid program, starting Monday.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Maine's voter-approved Medicaid expansion is scheduled to begin today - but it remains blocked by Gov. Paul LePage.  LePage has vowed to veto a bill funding the state's share of the cost and refused to file paperwork needed to tap into federal funding.

Maine's highest court has granted the LePage administration's request to delay expanding Medicaid, at least temporarily.

Medicaid expansion is supposed to take effect July 2, but the law is on hold until oral arguments in a lawsuit are heard in mid-July.

In a one-page order issued Wednesday, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley granted a temporary stay that gives the LePage administration more time to file a Medicaid expansion plan with the federal government, at least until after oral arguments on the matter are heard.

Maine Public

A number of high-profile bills remain unresolved as the Maine Legislature is approaching the end of its three day special session.

Lawmakers sent several proposals to Gov. Paul LePage, including a $41 million spending bill to provide funding to help the elderly and disabled, as well as people suffering from opioid use disorders.

A $35 million bill to fund the implementation of Medicaid expansion has also passed, but it faces a likely veto by LePage.

A lawsuit that seeks to force Maine's health commissioner to implement Medicaid expansion is now before the state Supreme Judicial Court.

The LePage administration has appealed a lower court's order to start the process. But consumer advocacy groups have filed arguments against further delays for the law that's supposed to take effect in less than two weeks.

The LePage administration said Monday that it will fight a state judge's order directing the Governor to file paperwork to expand Medicaid services, despite the fact that Medicaid expansion was approved by Maine voters last year.

Court: Maine Must Submit Medicaid Plan, Despite Appeal

Jun 18, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine - A Maine judge says Republican Gov. Paul LePage's administration must still file a plan to expand Medicaid as voters demanded despite ongoing litigation.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the order saying the executive branch's failure to follow the people's will could promote disrespect for laws.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is recusing herself from any pending legal actions involving Medicaid expansion, citing her candidacy for governor and stated support for Medicaid expansion

“If there is a role for this office to play, I will defer to their judgement in that regard," Mills says. "It’s important to recognize that I am a candidate for Governor in Tuesday’s primary election and I have taken a strong position on Medicaid expansion.”

Maine Public staff/file

The LePage administration is appealing a judge's order issued Monday that requires the state to begin implementing the expansion of Medicaid approved by Maine voters in 2017.

In an email sent to Maine Public Thursday night, Julie Rabinowitz, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, says Commissioner Ricker Hamilton appealed Monday's decision.

"The Commissioner has appealed and asked the Law Court to expedite briefing on this important constitutional question," Rabinowitz says, in a brief statement.  "An appropriation is essential to implementing any major public program, and Medicaid expansion is no different."

Maine Public staff

A Superior Court judge has ruled that the LePage administration must expand Medicaid.

The decision, issued Monday, orders the state to submit a plan to the federal government within a week. Advocates say that means enrollment should begin on July 2, for the 70,000 people who are eligible.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Legislature's Appropriations Committee is meeting to see if Democrats and Republicans are any closer to a compromise on a supplemental budget.
 
Committee members on Wednesday will consider unfunded bills, bond proposals and other measures left on the table when lawmakers adjourned last month with unfinished business. Some of the matters must be dealt with before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
 
One of the biggest sticking points is funding to get the ball rolling to expand Medicaid.
 

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